This handsome fella is your ticket to the Torquere Press Lucky Seven contest. Simply note the URL of this page, then click on Jack to go to Torquere's contest page, where you will receive further instructions.
Good luck in the contest, and thanks so much for visiting!
Lee xo

Noble is an American medical anthropologist who wants to save the world. His work in Kenya is off to a slow start until he accidentally moves into a brothel. The night guard, Harry, is more than what he seems, and soon he’s helping Noble take his research, and love life, to a whole new level.

Their work among the poorest of Nairobi’s poor is challenging, and they find great comfort in each other until an old crush calls Noble away and sinister forces mass against him and Harry. From slums and whorehouses to game parks and Indian Ocean beaches, this isn’t the tour books’ Kenya, and Harry and Noble aren’t your ordinary couple! Can simple love triumph against the complex forces of corruption, prejudice, and public health crises? Or is it just a curl of smoke, ready to be blown away? 

FUN FACT about the cover
Many of the settings in ASKARI were inspired by places I visited during research and study in Kenya and Tanzania during the winter and spring of 1988. I sent these snapshots of a youth hostel outside Nairobi (right) and a folk art museum near Mount Kilimanjaro (left) to cover artist Alessia Brio. You can see how faithfully her cover design reflects my memories!
For some more snaps from my time in East Africa, visit these links.
Here is an excerpt from the beginning of ASKARI:
Nairobi, Kenya, 1988
"Don't you dare take a picture of me like this!" Noble howled from his perch on the foot rail of the narrow iron bed, his bare knees wedged under the tiny sink.
Stuart dove for his little 35mm camera, an evil grin on his face. Noble tried to turn his attention back to shaving, but Stuart would be leaving after breakfast, and Noble's fondest desire was to make the most of their remaining hours. He'd rather Stuart tumbled him on the thin mattress of the creaky old bed, but evidently the most intimate they'd get was Noble submitting to ignominious photographs.
"If you're gonna be stuck in this hole to stretch your per diem, I might as well at least enjoy it," Stuart crowed with characteristic self-interest. He aimed the lens in the direction of Noble's ass, covered in rusty briefs, unflatteringly slumped over the bed rail. The room was so tiny, there was no other way to use the sink. The night before, Noble had tried kneeling on the bed and leaning over, but the springs were so spongy he'd pitched forward and ended up with a bruise on his forehead from hitting the wall. Even with
Stuart backed up in the far corner of the room to get the shot, Noble could tell the snapshot would be all ass, all the time.
"Sunit won't develop those," Noble protested. He knew his penchant for chronicling every moment of his time in-country was a source of amusement to the more sophisticated Stuart, but he also knew his research would be more publishable with photographs, and if he took them himself there would be no questions about research ethics. It had taken him two months to find a reliable photo developer in Nairobi, and he didn't want to risk Sunit cutting him off. It still bugged Noble that he couldn't do his own processing, the way he had for his dissertation, but he wouldn't risk something happening to his film between now and his eventual return stateside, so Sunit's good will was important to him.
"Oh, Sunit will develop them," Stuart assured him, gleefully clicking away while Noble finished shaving as quickly as possible, earning himself an extra nick or three in the process. "He'll just make himself a private set of prints of these!"
"So you're pandering to him?" Noble did his best to sound indignant, but Stuart's mood was too buoyant for him to stay grumpy. After months of language and culture training, they were finally on their own, ready to undertake independent research projects.
"Hurry up, Noble," Stuart said when he finally tired of the impromptu photo session. "The concierge said breakfast only goes 'til nine." With a slap to Noble's butt, which was now halfway to asleep on the hard rail, Stuart set about getting dressed. Watching Stuart dress had become a guilty pleasure for Noble. A snug singlet covered the tight chest, puffy plaid boxers slid over Stuart's tiny little ass. An ancient red bowling shirt with "Bill" embroidered over the pocket, a pair of disreputable chinos and a tatty pair of Birkenstocks transformed Stuart from wet-dream god to insouciant junior scientist. The lissome creature who, in Noble's futile fantasies, nipped his throat and hissed filthy things when he came, was a secret only Noble got to see, and watching Stuart conceal it had become almost a holy rite for Noble, like dressing a saint's statue for a procession.
Noble was going to miss Stuart when he left.
"Ready?" Stuart tossed Noble his shirt before he'd finished brushing his teeth, forcing Noble to juggle a foamy brush in order to catch his last clean shirt. He ran a flat comb over his short curls, and promised himself a proper bath later, now that he had a place to stay. He jammed his feet into his own Birks, much newer and, to Noble's reckoning, less cool than Stuart's.
"Ready," he said, slinging his camera bag crosswise over his body and hefting a small daypack.
The grandly named "Trophy Room" on the ground floor of the hotel was where breakfast was served. During their training period, Noble had become accustomed to the endless oatmeal and coffee at the YMCA in central Nairobi, and he'd uncritically expected the same at the modest hotel Stuart had found as a base for Noble's fieldwork and a crash pad for himself when his conservation work brought him back to the capital. Instead of the Y's abundance, however, there was sweet, milky tea and white toast in wire racks, presided over by an assortment of rough looking folks at littered tables. Noble and Stuart wove through the few tables to sit at the bar manned by the whippet of a guy who'd checked them in the night before. Noble knew it was horribly bourgeois to be fearful of these strangers, but it was all he could do not to grab Stuart's hand as they sat down, especially when the whispers of ‘mzungu’ reached them.
"Steady, boyo," Stuart mouthed at Noble. After so many weeks together, Stuart knew how uncomfortable Noble got whenever Kenyans called him "white."
Honestly, Noble felt beyond uncomfortable. He was dismayed that most Kenyans saw him as white. He’d expected, naively perhaps, to be less conspicuous here than back home. Noble bit his lip and accepted a cup from the bartender. This place was one of the few places he could afford during the high season on the Spartan per diem provided by the institute funding their projects, so he'd better not antagonize the local denizens.
Rather than examine his cup too closely for cleanliness, Noble looked around the "restaurant." No cozy breakfast place, it ponged of the morning after a party, and looked it, too, with smeared glasses and Tusker bottles littering tabletops and the odd dirty plate hosting an after-party of flies. Memories of the lessons they'd had in avoiding local infections came back to Noble.
"I don't think I can eat here," he whispered to Stuart, feeling foolish. If pressed, he’d have insisted that more than the atmosphere bothered him, but this early in the morning he couldn’t put a finger on what it was. He looked around the room again, observing as a scientist and not a tourist.
Stuart slid him an indulgent look. "So don't. The tea should be hot enough to have killed anything nasty. Drink that, and we'll get something on our way over to the bus depot."
"So the best I can hope for is street food?" Noble sighed. Even that would be better than the warped toast the barkeep slid in front of him on a grimy plate. Noble watched as the plate maneuvered around an empty Rough Rider wrapper, and that made everything click -- all of the women in the room were the same ones he’d seen when he and Stuart checked in the night before. He had the strong sense that these weren’t ordinary market women or travelers from Kenya’s hinterland.. Noble did his best to hide his wince and glared at Stuart.
"You've set me up in a brothel ?"
Lee Benoit